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Katie Donovan

May Swim

Katie Donovan

Publication Date : 23 May 2024

ISBN: 9781780376868

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

By turns lyrical and sardonic, May Swim, Irish poet Katie Donovan's sixth book of poetry, is characteristically watery – candid and uncompromising in its refusal to inhabit the safer reaches of the shore. Poems of loss, widowhood and ageing co-exist with observations of her wild garden and its inhabitants, informed by wider concerns about the environment and climate change.

Small acts of salvage are often all that is possible, such as the permission given during the Covid-19 pandemic to go 2km from home. This allowed Donovan to swim at White Rock, her local beach, thus staying afloat through the fear of that brutal time and what came next – the death of her mother. In some of these poems the comforting delusion of rescue is highlighted as a flawed but human necessity. Other poems give voice to the remorse that is the haunting of a failed rescue.

Whether writing about her hybrid car, the death of whales from ingesting plastic waste, or abortion now being legal in Ireland, Donovan’s idiosyncratic range of tone and subject continues to enthral and engage the reader thirty years after her debut collection, Watermelon Man, arrived with its ‘distinguished and open language’ and ‘bold statements of identity’ (Eavan Boland).

In 2017 Katie Donovan was awarded the twenty-first O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry 'for the intensity and conviction of her poetry, in recognition of the great range of both her craft and her subject matter, and in appreciation of her dedication to the witness and the vocation of the writer'.

From the reviews of Off Duty:

'Katie Donovan’s new book, Off Duty, emerged out of the illness and premature death of her partner. Donovan records the devastating impact of that illness and loss on her relationships to her young children, her extended family and partner... If Donovan’s subject is compelling, her style is more jagged: buttoned-down plainness coexists with tender, naively rendered details, alongside occasional shifts to a higher and more obviously poetic register. It is a tricky combination, but… it can be surprising and effective.’ – John McAuliffe, The Irish Times

'Donovan is offering us the most honest and heart-breaking depiction of loss…What works so potently alongside such unwavering frankness is the quiet accommodation made by a household that includes two young children, whose pathetic witness to their father’s loss provides the collection with its most harrowing and heart-stopping moments…I can but urge you to read this, weep, and remember that thou too, art dust.’ – Martin Malone, Poetry Ireland Review

‘Throughout the collection, Donovan’s voice remains relatable, despite her extraordinary circumstance. She does not romanticise death, or the dying; nor does she make excuses for any ugliness she finds within herself. Yet in ascribing such a tapestry of thoughts and feelings to trauma, she is able to tenderly replicate her experience in all its contradictions; in both its darkness and its light. Off Duty is certainly an account of grieving, for the dead and the dying, but it’s also a study of those who go on living, and who, in time, will thrive again.’ – Julia O’Mahony, Dublin Review of Books

'The deep rhythms of the body shape this moving collection… Katie Donovan’s poems are lean and spare…reports from the front line.’ – Dorothy Yamamoto, ARTEMISpoetry

‘The exact capturing of powerful and often contradictory emotions, thoughts and responses in language this vivid is extraordinarily affecting: a chronicle of almost impossible times, ‘both a searing tragedy and a chainlink of domestic chores’.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian

Katie Donovan reads from May Swim

Katie Donovan reads and introduces six poems from May Swim: ‘Two Women, One Grave’, ‘Deluge’, ‘May Swim’, ‘The Seal’, ‘Stories’ and ‘Home to Vote’. Neil Astley filmed her reading from her new collection at her home in Dalkey, Dublin, in April 2024 ahead of the book’s publication in May 2024.

Katie Donovan reads from Off Duty

Katie Donovan reads and introduces five poems from Off Duty: ‘Labour’, ‘Dyno-Rod’, ‘Operation’, ‘What Can I Give Him’ and ‘Off Duty’. Neil Astley filmed her reading from her later collections at her home in Dalkey, Dublin, in April 2024.

Katie Donovan reads from Rootling

Katie Donovan reads seven poems from Rootling: New & Selected Poems (2010): ‘Butter’, 'Yearn On', 'Stitching’, ‘Day of the Dead, New Orleans’, 'Rootling' and ‘Buying a Body’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Katie Donovan reading her poems at her home in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, in June 2009. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).

 

Ireland & EU: Click here to order from Books Upstairs in Dublin

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or Bookshop.org

  

BOOKS BY Katie Donovan

Off Duty

Katie Donovan

Off Duty

Publication Date : 29 Sep 2016

Read More   amazon.co.uk
Rootling

Katie Donovan

Rootling

New & Selected Poems

Publication Date : 26 May 2010

Read More   amazon.co.uk

Related News & Publicity

Poetry Events


Katie Donovan Readings

Katie Donovan Readings

Katie will be reading at United Arts Club, Dublin, on Fri 14 June and at Wexford's Cabaret night on 21 June 2024. Bloodaxe online launch event now on YouTube. More...

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News & Publicity


Katie Donovan interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1's Poetry People

Katie Donovan interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1's Poetry People

Katie Donovan was interviewed about her sixth poetry book May Swim on RTÉ Radio 1's Poetry People on 12 May ahead of in-person launches in Dublin & Galway on 22 & 28...

Read More  |  View All

Poetry Events


Launch reading by Amanda Dalton, Imtiaz Dharker and Katie Donovan

Launch reading by Amanda Dalton, Imtiaz Dharker and Katie Donovan

Amanda Dalton, Imtiaz Dharker and Katie Donovan launched their new poetry books online on Tuesday 21 May. Watch the recording on YouTube.

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